The rift between the world of nature-based communities and the inhabitants of the industrialized world is a reason of separation within people. While the Western World look into aligning their climate contributions with their lifestyles, those living closer to nature are finding their reality changing at speed. This imbalance leads to shutting out small communities from the global marketplace and consequently make space for other harming industries, such as gold mining practices that threaten the Amazon further in polluting the global ecosystem.
With the help of Brainforest, a Swiss-based for-impact Venture Studio for forest and climate, the connection with gebana was made to reach global markets through their market access platform.
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Our value chain, from fruit to nut and oil
When the Brazil nut fruits are ripe, they fall to the ground...
...where we crack them open using machetes.
Each fruit contains 12-28 nuts, which we collect and dry.
After cracking, we remove the shells.
While some are now ready to eat, we elaborate a portion to oil, in a careful, manual process.
Finally, we inject the oil into small bottles.
Our beautiful Tuhka oil...
...and our exquisite roasted nuts!
Deep in the south of Suriname in the Coeroenie resort in the far southwest of the Surinamese district of Sipaliwini is the native village of Alalapadu. Around 140 people live there in harmony with nature and are surrounded by many Brazil nut trees that lie the foundation of the environment, flora and fauna.
This is of great importance, since Suriname’s country is covered by 93% of precious forest. Especially in the South the main gem of the forest and main source of energy for the people of Alalapadu is the Brazilnut. It is found in the lungs of our planet: the Amazon rainforest. Brazil nut – para noot in Dutch or tuhka in the Trio language – is primarily found in Brazil, Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Suriname.
Brazil nuts are an important source of energy and contain sufficient quantities of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. The nuts are renowned for their high nutritional value, especially the high selenium content. In addition, the oil has unique nutritional, cosmetic and therapeutic benefits.
The harvesting of the nuts takes place during the wet season from January until March. It is executed by traditional practices of the local people. The processing of the nuts into oil is taking place in the local bioeconomy facility centers.
Impressions from Alalapadu
Alalapadu is situated in the south of Suriname, in the district of Sipaliwini.
It sits amidst the dense Amazon rainforest.
The Tuhka processing plant.
Brazil nuts are plenty here, though collecting and processing them is hard work.
Get to know the village!
Conservation International Suriname building a bioeconomy facility
The nuts of the Brazil nut tree are not only nutritious but also a solution to generate possible income for the further development and wellbeing of the habitants of the Alalapadu region.
In 2015 the village has been supported by Conservation International Suriname to create an own bio-processing facility to process the Brazil nut into high-value carrier oils and roasted nuts. Building the new facility has massively increased the local well-being. 90 new workplaces have generated which improved the local livelihood and gave the whole village a source of income. This lead to the improvement of the medical-, and educational infrastructure.
The sales locally and globally are still going slow, therefore, Brainforest has made the connection to gebana to support the global market access. And that is why each bottle that is purchased will support the indigenous people directly in further building their facility.
Suriname has among different tribes also many trees. In fact, due to its major forest coverage, it is one of the only two countries that can proudly state that they are Carbon negative. Their country is covered by 93% of tropical rainforest and sequesters more CO2 than it emissions. However, just like any other tropical forest in South America, Suriname is threatened by illegal timber logging and illegal small-scale gold mining practices.
In order to further support the villagers, prevent deforestation and guarantee the preservation of the high-value Brazil nut trees and nature in general, the village has agreed to sign a Conservation Agreement of 235.000 hectares of their forest around the facility. The indigenous people will monitor the forest and fight any unsolicited practices like timber logging or small-scale gold mining.
Also, in order to make the communities independent of any other company in the long run, the community has built its own business association named ‘Tuhka’ that is fabricating the products and surveils the product development. Additionally, they are making sure that all salaries are being paid fairly and no corruptible practices are taking place.
How can you support the Tuhka foundation?
While purchasing these Brazil nuts and oils you are supporting the Tuhka foundation with their efforts in making conservation happen. Of each sold product, 100% of the profit goes directly to the local people that further increases their livelihood and protects the surrounding area.
Also, by purchasing this product, you will support the community and help to build more bioeconomy facilities in different villages. This leads to improving the livelihoods, bring people out of poverty and sign conservation agreements to protect the rainforest.
Tuhka Foundation: Tuhka Foundation for Sustainable Development Alalapadu was founded on 25 May, 2017 with the aim of increasing and promoting the well-being of the community in Alalapadu in Sipaliwini. The foundation wants to achieve this by using valuable natural products found in the Alalapadu area, including Tuhka nuts.
Brainforest: Brainforest is a swiss-based for-impact venture studio for forests & climate. Enabled by the Migros Pioneer Fund, part of the social commitment of the Migros Group, and co-founded by the WWF Switzerland, we are striving for game-changing solutions to unlock the full climate potential of forests at speed, scale, and quality through entrepreneurial approaches.
Conservation International Suriname: Conservation International Suriname has financed and built the bioeconomy facility in Alalapadu.